#IL12: Raging GOP Candidate's Past Includes Dog Killing And Mysterious Stolen Gun [TW: Animal Cruelty]
WASHINGTON — Illinois state Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) has made a name for himself throwing extraordinary tantrums during legislative sessions. But he doesn’t appear to have contained his notorious temper to the statehouse, according to a review of court and police records obtained by The Huffington Post.
Bost, who is running for Congress this fall under the slogan “Passionate Leadership for Southern Illinois,” has a lengthy history with local authorities, including some incidents that suggest “passionate” is a bit of an understatement.
The earliest episode dates back to 1986, when a neighborhood beagle named Rusty bit Bost’s 4-year-old daughter. The report filed by animal control officials indicates that the girl provoked the attack by chasing the dog. She ultimately had to get 19 stitches on her face.
According to court records, Bost was displeased that authorities would not be able to deal with the 10-year-old dog immediately. So he got his handgun, drove to Rusty’s owner’s home, and shot the dog to death while it was penned in an enclosure.
Neighbors were “very alarmed and disturbed,” according to the police report, but a jury eventually found Bost not guilty of breaking any laws. The local paper reported the case under the headline “Area man acquitted in dog killing trial.”
The documents also detail another alarming, more mysterious incident. Bost, a gun-rights defender who in 2008 voted against a bill to require the prompt reporting of stolen guns, did not report a gun that was stolen from his own home.
In 2006, Bost’s nickel-plated special edition .357 Rossi revolver was stolen from his gun safe. According to police records, Bost did not know about the theft until police showed up at his door to inform him that the gun had been used to threaten another man’s life. Bost led investigators to the safe, and the firearm was indeed missing.
It is unclear who stole the weapon and how it was removed from the safe, but Bost and family members suspected that the thief may have been connected to a 17-year-old girl who had stayed briefly in Bost’s house. Bost told police that he usually did not lock the side door to the room that contained the safe.
Other incidents found in the files are less distressing, but similarly portray Bost as an aggressive man whose actions often put him in conflict with others.
While Bost once felt justified in shooting a dog to death, in later years, he wasn’t too worried about his own dog roaming the neighborhood. Local police records show that neighbors were so concerned about Bost’s pet scampering around their homes and the local school that they called police at least four separate times.
Several people who encountered the lawmaker seem to have responded especially poorly to him, though the records do not indicate why. According to one report, in 1999 someone kicked in Bost’s front door looking for him, but left when they encountered only his wife. Bost reported the incident to police. He also called the cops in 2009 after someone left a note on his car that was described as suspicious, along with a copy of the “Narcotics Anonymous” pamphlet.
Along with a fairly typical assortment of traffic tickets and moving violations, Bost was also involved in at least two car accidents. In a 1996 crash involving his red Beetle, Bost was found at fault for failing to yield to another motorist.
Bost’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment, including questions about the stolen gun and what the string of incidents might say about the candidate.
Bost’s outbursts are a regular hit on YouTube. Perhaps most notoriously, while railing in 2012 against what he saw as unfair floor procedures, he punched at a stack of papers that he had flung into the air. At the end of that rant, he compared Illinois Republicans and his constituents to biblical Jews in Egypt, hollering, “I feel like somebody trying to be released from Egypt! Let my people go!” And last spring, during debate on concealed carry rules, Bost smashed his microphone, prompting a Democrat to quip, “We don’t want someone like that carrying a concealed weapon.”
Democrats have sought to portray Bost, who is challenging Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.), as a fundamentally unsound person whose volatile temper would only make Washington worse. So far, they’ve used his infamous outbursts in at least two ads, in which they dub Bost “Meltdown Mike.”
He is the wrong choice to be IL-12’s next Congressman!
h/t: Michael McAuliff at HuffPost Politics
Source: The Huffington Post
Another solid ad by Bill Enyart highlighting Mike Bost’s temper tantrums and voting on tax increases during his tenure in the Illinois House and why Bost is NOT fit to represent #IL12. Go and vote for Enyart!
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a measure aimed at providing further protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
The legislation bars employers from firing, segregating against or refusing to hire pregnant women. Sponsoring Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, has said the measure would relieve the issue of some women having to choose between having a child or taking a job.
The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations based on a woman’s needs, but a boss could ask for a doctor’s note. Women also could seek limited physical duties, such as avoiding heavy lifting.
“This legislation is especially important for low-income workers, who typically have the most physically demanding jobs and are least likely to have access to maternity leave and sick time,” said Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, in a statement issued by Quinn’s office. “Women can’t afford to lose their jobs, along with their income, seniority, and their employer-provided health insurance, or put their pregnancies at risk, due to the denial of a reasonable accommodation.”
Quinn signed the measure as he faces Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in the Nov. 4 election. The bill was not controversial in the General Assembly, passing the Senate 57-0 and the House 115-0. The law takes effect Jan. 1. You can read the bill here.
h/t: Chicago Tribune
HB 5707, a bill aimed at curbing school bullying in the state, is now waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.
The legislation, sponsored by lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, passed the Senate May 29 with 37 votes in favor after being amended, and proceeded to pass the house with 75 votes in favor of concurrence.
"Bullying in our schools has dramatic impacts on the victims and disrupts the educational process as a whole" Cassidy said in a statement. "The effects are devastating and well documented: victims have reduced academic achievement, lower involvement and are often forced out of school. Our schools must be safe and welcoming for all students, and this bill is a significant step towards that goal."
The bill lays out a clear bullying policy for schools as well as responsive measures. It also directs that schools compile and report data on bullying incidents.
"What I hear from [families of bullied children] so often, when they speak with schools or police, is that they are often told, ‘You are the first ones this has happened to’—that opens the door to blaming the victim," Cassidy told Windy City Times shortly after the bill passed out of committee in March. "With this, you can go back and verify that something else happened on a particular date."
An anti-bullying measure failed in the Senate in 2012 by just one vote. Cassidy has said the new measure is stronger and includes some facets that had to be deleted before.
"A comprehensive approach is needed to solve this issue," Cassidy said in the May 29 statement. "By giving school districts the tools to combat bullying, with an emphasis on restorative practices and accountability through data, we can help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children and schools."
Illinois Senate Adjourns Leaving Fair Tax Act Untouched, Kills Term Limit Amendment | Progress Illinois
The Illinois Senate has adjourned for the day, leaving the Fair Tax Act untouched. Meanwhile, the GOP-backed amendment to impose term limits on state lawmakers died in the chamber Tuesday.
Despite a large rally by Illinoisans calling for a chance to vote on the Fair Tax Act and attempts by sponsor State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) to drum up support in the House, the amendment was not called up for a vote in the Senate. The amendment, which would have installed a progressive income tax in the state, had to pass through the Senate today in order to even potentially meet the deadline to make it onto the November ballot.
“I want to make sure there is a path to victory in the House before advancing it out of the Senate,” Harmon said, according to the State Journal-Register. “There are Republicans who can, should and will vote for this amendment if given the opportunity. I have no doubt we will need a bipartisan roll call in the House, but I am confident we can achieve that.”
“There’s no point in calling it in the Senate for some sort of symbolic vote,” he added.
Advocates for a progressive tax in the state are voicing displeasure with today’s outcome, as seen in this statement by A Better Illinois campaign director Kristen Crowell:
While we are certainly disappointed with today’s results, the fight for a Fair Tax – which enjoys the support of 77% of Illinois voters – is far from over. Our statewide grassroots campaign, including more than 250,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 750 small businesses, faith leaders, labor and education groups, and civic and community organizations from every corner of the state brought us closer to implementing a Fair Tax in Illinois than ever before.
We are confident the days of forced poor choices between unfair, regressive taxation that disproportionately burdens the poor and middle class and continued draconian cuts to the vital investments Illinoisans expect and depend upon are numbered. The Fair Tax will continue to be an issue in the upcoming elections and in front of lawmakers again as soon as this year’s Veto Session.
Today is a sad day for democracy. This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public. Our research and our conversations with both voters and lawmakers make us supremely confident that Illinois citizens will ultimately end this unfair, antiquated tax system as the truth about a Fair Tax continues to become evident.
Meanwhile, conservatives are “celebrating” the lack of a vote on the progressive tax amendment, as seen in this press release by Americans for Prosperity:
In a second victory for working families and businesses in as many months, the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a progressive income tax is dead after Democratic leaders failed to muster enough support to call the legislation for a vote. AFP-Illinois led the grassroots charge against the tax by airing three cable TV and online ads, generating over 1,800 constituent calls to priority legislators’ offices, and mobilizing its activists throughout the state at fifteen town hall meetings and other grassroots events.
This stealth income tax increase was championed by Governor Quinn and Springfield’s Democratic leaders as yet another way to squeeze more cash out of Illinois taxpayers. With the backing of more than 60,000 Illinois grassroots activists, Americans for Prosperity-Illinois joined with legislators and partner organizations in an effort to show legislators the deep opposition to the proposed progressive income tax.
'AFP-Illinois gave voice to thousands of Illinois residents who deeply distrust the leadership in Springfield and know that changing our state’s constitution to allow for a progressive tax would open the door to continued tax increases in the future,' said AFP-Illinois State Director David From.
Governor Quinn and Speaker Madigan’s next goal is to make permanent the state’s temporary tax increase, a whopping 67 percent tax increase passed in 2011 that is the largest tax increase in Illinois history. Three years later Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, with billions of unpaid bills, a seriously underfunded pension liability, and the third highest unemployment rate in the country. After defeat of ‘millionaire tax’ and the progressive income tax, AFP-Illinois shifts full attention to blocking a permanent income tax hike.
'Just three years ago Illinois taxpayers were promised that the income tax increase was temporary, and now Governor Quinn has made making this temporary hike permanent the cornerstone of his fiscal policy,' continued From. 'The defeat of the millionaire tax and the progressive income tax shows that Illinois voters are fed up with the false promises of our politicians; AFP-Illinois and our thousands of Illinois supports can now shift our full attention to defeating Governor Quinn’s permanent income tax increase.'
The Republican-led push to impose term limits on state lawmakers, an idea that is supported by both GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner as well as Gov. Pat Quinn, failed to pass through a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. But the issue could still get on the November ballot if Rauner’s petiton effort to limit state lawmakers to eight years in office and adjust the number of legislators in the general assembly garners enough support. He is expected to turn in the petition signatures on Wednesday.
Another potential amendment to hit November ballots looks to restructure the way Illinois political maps are drawn. Signatures for that effort are expected to be turned in Thursday. Both Rauner’s effort and the amendment to restructure state political maps are expected to see a court challenge.
Two other amendments will definitely appear on the ballot, however. One amendment looks to prevent voter suppression, while the other will strengthen the victims’ rights amendment.
Bad news out of Springfield: The A Better Illinois-backed Illinois Fair Tax Act is NOT headed to the ballot in November.
Also, the issue of term limits for state legislators and resizing the House [118 to 123] and Senate [59 to 41] (supported by BOTH Rauner and incumbent Gov. Quinn) being on the ballot is a no-go (for now).
Legislators total in Illinois (BOTH House and Senate) 177 currently, 164 if proposal somehow passes.
How bills in Illinois will pass (Simple Majority/60% Supermajority/66%/75% Thresholds) under the current and new proposals to resize the House and Senate:
Illinois TL/Resizing Proposal Bill Passages: House: 60/71/78/89 [New: 62/74/82/93] Senate: 30/36/39/45 [New: 21/25/28/31] #Twill— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem) April 30, 2014
SPRINGFIELD — A bill that was inspired by the shut-down of a Madison County girl’s cupcake-baking operation won unanimous approval Thursday in the Illinois House.
House Bill 5354, which will allow “home kitchen operations” to continue baking and selling homemade goods with some restrictions, now goes to the Senate. It was sponsored in the House by Rep. Charlie Meier, an Okawville Republican who said trying to get the bill passed has taught him that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.
Meier had to put some substitute ingredients in the bill in order to get it passed in the House. It originally would have prohibited local health departments from regulating the sale of home-baked goods by churches and other charitable organizations, or by hobby bakers such as sixth-grader Chloe Stirling of Troy.
Before calling the bill for a vote, Meier amended it to state that a health department can inspect such an operation “in the event of a complaint or a disease outbreak.” Another amendment states that such operations, based out of home kitchens, are allowed only “in a municipality, township or county where the local governing body has adopted an ordinance authorizing the direct sale of baked goods.”
Meier wouldn’t name names, but he said he was “encouraged” by House leadership to make the changes to the bill in order for it to get passed.
"It’s not where I started, it’s not what I wanted, but we’re better off than we were before. It’s a step in the right direction," Meier said. "We were at the point where we were going to get nothing or get part of it, so we took part of it."
Most every health department in the state had opposed the bill in its original form.
"Current law has a negative impact on home kitchen operators like Chloe, but once this bill becomes law, they should be able to continue selling baked items without having the fear of being shut down by the health department," Meier said.
The Madison County Health Department’s shut-down of Chloe’s cupcake-making enterprise spurred Meier to file the bill. Chloe wasn’t at the Capitol on Thursday, but Meier said she’s happy with the revised bill.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said the amended bill seems to be a good compromise that takes into account public safety and individual freedom. He said he would encourage the Madison County Board to adopt the type of ordinance that is required in the bill.
"I’m totally in favor of that. In fact, I’ll help write the ordinance," Gibbons said. "This looks pretty reasonable, pretty workable."
The bill states that in order to qualify as a “home kitchen operation,” monthly gross sales cannot exceed $1,000, the food cannot be potentially hazardous, and the operator must provide notice to the purchaser that the food was produced in a home kitchen.
Meier says many churches and other charitable organizations have dinners as fundraisers, where individual members of the organization each bring baked items. For example, he said, a church might sell chicken dinners, with each dinner including a slice of home-baked pie or cake. Meier said he’s OK with the church’s kitchen having to meet health regulations, but it’s going too far to impose health regulations on every home kitchen where a pie is baked.
Chloe’s cupcake operation was featured in the BND Magazine in January. Madison County health officials have said they shut Chloe down after receiving a complaint from an adult who was denied permission to sell products baked at home.
The House passed the bill 106-0.
It’s headed to the Senate for easy passage and hopefully Gov. Quinn signs it.
CHICAGO (March 26, 2014) – Equality Illinois is calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to protect minors by passing the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act this spring after the House Human Services Committee approved it today by a 9 to 6 vote.
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, said so-called “conversion therapies” for youths pretend to supposedly “cure” people of being gay, but have actually proven to be very harmful and are actively opposed by leading mental health and medical professional groups.
“This bill would ensure that the most vulnerable individuals, those already struggling in the face of homophobia and transphobia, are not targeted and subjected to a practice that medical practitioners deem harmful and inappropriate,” Cherkasov said.
The measure would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. The bill’s chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
“We are grateful for the work of Rep. Cassidy and her cosponsors in advancing the bill and urge the full House to quickly follow suit,” Cherkasov said. “Illinois has been a leader in fighting anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace and in public accommodations, and it should be a leader in protecting our youth from this false and potentially dangerous treatment.”
EQIL’s Twitter Account:
h/t: Equality Illinois
#ILPrimary Update (12:40AM CDT): Pro-marriage equality GOP incumbent Ron Sandack declared the winner
Dwight Kay, Right-wing extremist Illinois State Rep. from Glen Carbon, proposes drug testing for welfare applicants
(KMOV) – Illinois State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) has introduced legislation that would require residents to undergo a drug test before being made eligible to receive welfare benefits.
If passed, House Bill 4255 would require the state to establish a drug testing program that all applicants of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would have to submit to. The cost of the test would be deducted from the applicant’s first benefits payment if they became eligible.
“This bill will go a long way in ensuring families are able to receive the benefits they need while also making sure the system is fair and cleansed of as much abuse as possible,” Kay said in a statement.
In 2011, Missouri passed similar legislation that required applicants and recipients of the welfare program to be screened for illegal drug use.
Critics contend such legislation singles out one group of people for no reason, while backers of the testing say welfare benefits funded by taxpayers should not go to people who are using illegal drugs.
Dwight Kay NEEDS to be voted out in 2014!
Chicago, IL — Many LGBT Illinoisans will likely remember 2013 mainly as the year marriage equality became a reality for our state. While we have to wait until June for marriage to officially wed, the marriage struggle this year gave our community numerous moments of joy, not to mention a few moments of disappointment. Here are some of ChicagoPride.com’s highlights from the past year.
January: The new year brought tremendous hope to supporters when, on Jan. 4, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act is voted out of committee and onto the Senate floor. Supporters hope that the vote would take place quickly, but a number of mix-ups mean it has to wait. Rick Garcia of The Civil Rights Agenda tells ChicagoPride.com that the anticipated Senate vote simply fell victim to bad timing, adding, “This means we are one step closer.”
February: The Illinois State Senate grants a Valentine’s Day wish to gay and lesbian constituents seeking legal marriage recognition—the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act passes in the chamber by a vote of 34-21. Senate sponsor Heather Steans says of the legislation, “It’s time we in the General Assembly catch up to our neighbors. We can confidently and proudly vote for this bill today, because voters in the nation and our state understand and endorse this basic tenet of fairness and equality.” Twelve days later, the legislation passes the House Executive Committee in a narrow 6-5 vote.
March: Chief co-sponsor Greg Harris tells Chicago Sun-Times that, “When I call this for a vote, it will pass.” Throughout the Spring, marriage supporters and organizers line up high-profile help, among them Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as retired Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks and former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent. President Obama’s Organizing for Action project also notifies its supporters that it will be partnering with Illinois Unites for Marriage, which is a joint project by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and ACLU Illinois.
Residents of areas with legislators who are on the fence about SB10 report that they’re receiving robo-calls asking them to tell politicians to vote against the legislation.
April: On April 5, a coalition of about a dozen African American pastors speak in the Loop in favor of the legislation. On April 24, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan pens a supportive editorial in the Chicago Tribune. ”Legal arguments aside, this issue at its heart is about one of the most fundamental decisions we can make — with whom to share our lives,” Madigan says. ”In every community in Illinois, same-sex couples have chosen to join together and, in many instances, to raise families of their own. … They deserve the same rights and responsibilities that civil marriage offers straight couples.”
May: Other states achieving marriage equality, including Rhode Island and Minnesota, heighten the anticipation as legislators return to Springfield. Near the end of the month, advocates say that they have the needed number of votes for SB10 to pass the legislation.
"The votes are, indeed, there," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, tells ChicagoPride.com. ”And I believe the bill is going to pass, but we’ve received no indication yet on when the bill would be called.”
But on May 31, Harris announces that the vote will not come yet. Fighting back tears, he acknowledges that some colleagues did not have the support of their constituents and asked for more time.
"I have never been sadder to accept such a request," Harris said. He promises that the issue would be re-opened in the veto session in the fall, but adds, "In the meantime, I apologize to the families who were hoping to wake up full and equal citizens."
"I have to say, when you are assured with such certainty that the votes were there for a vote, and then to have one not even take place, was maddening," Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Director James Bennett tells ChicagoPride.com. ”[Politicians] should not be able to hide behind not having a vote.”
In a statement, Gay Liberation Network's Andy Thayer calls the failure “abject betrayal” and lays blame at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan. ”Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House–if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed.”
June: Nearly 100 people turn out in the rain for a protest organized by GLN and TCRA at the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. Members of the coalition promise that the struggle will take a more active role in decision-making.
"The top donor to the Democratic party hired all of these contract lobbyist, straight white men, who don’t know shit," Rick Garcia tells the crowd of about 100 people.
Following a controversial editorial in Windy City Times, publisher Tracy Baim and Harris issue a joint statement: “We as a community can work together for the common cause of marriage equality, even if we have differences of opinion on strategy and tactics. We both have a respect for the role that each aspect of the community plays, including elected officials, activists, donors and the media. … We must unite fiercely as a community and focus our efforts on carrying the beacon of hope and equality for all families, and against those who wish to defeat the full promise of America for all her peoples.”
In mid-June, Illinois Unites for Marriage says that it is hiring a full-time campaign manager who would oversee and coordinate the statewide advocacy campaign and would gather additional input from supporters during nine community meetings held over the summer.
July: Illinois Unites hires John Kohlhepp, a union organizer with AFSCME, to be their campaign manager. Keron Blair of Midwest Academy is hired as field director, and Rev. Benjamin Reynolds is to be the coalition’s faith director. The coalition also announces a goal of raising $2 million.
August: Chicago-based Groupon becomes the latest corporation to come out in support of marriage equality in Illinois, with a YouTube video that announces, “We are Groupon and we are proud of being part of a diverse community of customers, merchants and employees. We work better when everyone, including our LGBT co-workers, can bring their whole selves to work every day. That is why we support marriage equality.”
Pat Brady, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, announces that he is joining the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to lobby for the passage of same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois. ”Liberty, freedom and equality under the law are all things that Republicans and conservatives have believed in for a long, long time,” Brady tells WBEZ radio.
September: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak visits Center on Halsted to unveil a new digital and print campaign designed to draw same-sex couples from Chicago to Minneapolis where they can get legally married. ”The people who built this neighborhood, who have done so much incredible work for this community, you deserve equal rights,” said Ryback. ”Come to Minnesota, a place that already recognizes that you should have those rights.” Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, additionally cites a recent study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimating marriage equality could add $100 million to Illinois’ economy.
October: Thousands of marriage rights advocates and allies brave the cold rain to rally outside the Capitol as part of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, an event to mark the first day of the fall veto session.
"This is our hour, this is our moment," Gov. Quinn tells the record-breaking crowd. "We need love to sign a marriage equality law and I’ll sign it as quickly as possible." Other top state officials in the rally include Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Chicago), Lt. Governor Sheila Simon (D), Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R).
Throughout the afternoon, in what becomes a three-hour rally, the politicians and speakers share the stage with top LGBT musicians, including Steve Grand, Sami Grisafe and Stephen Leonard.
Equality opponents rallied the following day in Springfield.
November: As equality supporters settle in for a three-day stretch of the veto session—many not expecting a vote until the last possible minute—Harris and colleagues surprise most with a vote that’s one of the first items on the House agenda. They approve the bill on Nov. 5 by a vote of 61-54-2.
"At the end of the day, this bill is about love. It’s about family. It’s about commitment," Harris tells colleagues on the floor.
Among those speaking on the legislation’s behalf is House Speaker Madigan, who sat next to former state Rep. (and current alderman) Deb Mell during the debate.
"Who am I to judge that they should be illegal? Who is the government to judge that they should be illegal, and for me, that’s the reason to support this bill," Madigan says.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) was one of three Republicans in the House to vote for in favor of the bill. The others were Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein).
"It should be a proud moment for everyone in our state, but it should be an especially proud moment for thousands of lesbian and gay families across our state, who now know they are on a very short path to achieving equality and all the protections that our law allows," Harris says during a press conference following the vote.
On Nov. 20, with the stroke of Gov. Pat Quinn’s pen, Illinois becomes the 16th state in the country to allow full marriage equality. SB10 is signed in front of numerous elected officials, advocates and members of the public at the UIC Forum in Chicago.
"Love never fails and I’m going to sign this bill now," says Quinn, who signs the bill—with multiple pens—on the desk Abraham Lincoln used to write his 1861 inaugural address.
"There is no straight or gay marriage. From now on there is only marriage in Illinois," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
For some Illinois couples, the passage is initially a bittersweet victory however. The official start date of gay marriages, thanks to rules applying to the veto session, is June 1. For couples with partners facing serious illnesses, there is no assurance that seven months would afford enough time. But a judge rules that activist Vernita Gray, who is seriously ill, and her partner Patricia Ewert can wed early. The day before Thanksgiving, they become the first same-sex couple to be legally married within Illinois.
December: A federal judge rules that two more couples with terminally ill partners can marry before the June 1 start-date. Additionally, the judge rules that the Cook County Clerk’s Office can set up a streamlined process for couples facing similar circumstances. The ruling initially only applies to Cook County, where issuance of a marriage license is dependent on the completion of a physician’s certification form that can be downloaded on the marriage equality page of the clerk’s website.
"We thank the Court and the clerk’s office for their swift response to ensure that Illinois couples who are struggling with the challenges of a life-threatening illness will have a chance to be married," says Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal.
— Democratic Rep. Greg Harris stood in front of his desk Monday night and voiced the question on the minds of the roughly dozen advocates, lobbyists and lawmakers packed into his small office near the Capitol: Should he call the gay marriage bill for a vote the next day?
Supporters had counted noses and estimated 58, maybe 59 House members were prepared to vote “yes” on the stalled plan to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. They needed 60.
Putting the bill on the board without knowing enough votes were there carried significant political risk. Hoping a final legislator or two would be moved by a sudden urge to make history was a gamble. A lawmaker could be absent, and the roll call could fall off. Perhaps it was better to wait until next year when the last bit of support could be rounded up.
After an hour-and-a-half of deliberations, the group decided the count was close enough to go for it, according to four people in the room. The next day, the bill passed with 61 votes — one more than the minimum required. The Senate quickly signed off, and Gov. Pat Quinn plans to sign the bill into law Nov. 20. On June 1, Illinois will become the 15th state where same-sex couples can wed legally, though lawmakers are toying with the idea of approving another measure to bump up the date.
"It was successful, so at the end of the day I think we did the right thing," said Harris, chief sponsor of the legislation. "The proof is in the pudding, as they say."
Those last few uncertain hours illustrate the difficulty supporters had in passing the measure, a process that started more than a year ago and was beset by early missteps that included failure in the Senate and a major embarrassment in the House. Harris’ decision not to call the bill at the end of the spring session brought divisions in the gay marriage movement to the surface and led to a frenzied push over the summer to turn things around.
While support remained fluid, advocates said much of the work the past several months focused on about 21 House Democrats identified during a potential roll call gathered before the legislature left town at the end of May. At that time, 50 Democrats and two Republicans had pledged to vote for the bill. Meanwhile, 11 Democratic members said they planned to vote “no” and 10 Democrats were undecided.
One lawmaker advocates had placed in the “no” camp was Rep. John D’Amico, a North Side Democrat who in 2010 voted against legislation that granted civil unions to same-sex couples. D’Amico was the subject of intense lobbying by both sides. Religious groups appealed to his Catholic faith, while gay rights groups hounded him with polling data that showed wide backing for gay marriage by residents of his district.
D’Amico, a district foreman for the city water department and a Rahm Emanuel ally, received a number of calls from the mayor asking him to support the bill. D’Amico said he also was lobbied by Madigan.
"In the end, it had to be my decision," said D’Amico, who added he met with his constituents for months and heard a lot of support for gay marriage. "The reason I did it is because I don’t believe in discrimination of any kind, and I feel it’s my job as an elected official to try and reflect what the district wants."
While the speaker chalked up his ability to win votes “to the art of persuasion,” Madigan also controls the purse strings to campaign funds that can make or break a tough race. Some lawmakers feared voting for gay marriage would inspire those opposed to the bill to run against them in the March primary election, but Madigan stressed that voting for gay marriage was the politically expedient thing to do as public opinion grows in its favor.
"There was some political turkey talking," Harris said. "As legislators, sometimes we get a skewed view based on the proponents and opponents who call us and are just so vociferous, but I think it was important for people to understand the polling data, to see that this is where America is going, this is where your district is going, and you need to move with the times."
Lawmakers who acknowledge they were worried about the political fallout of voting for gay marriage say they are prepared to defend the choice.
To address another concern, the bill was amended to reiterate that churches and affiliated groups wouldn’t be forced to host or perform gay marriage ceremonies.
"Once the amendment was filed, I was ready to move forward," said Rep. Andre Thapedi, who represents the Englewood neighborhood. "If not, I may have gone a different way."
The change was pushed by Democratic Rep. Anthony DeLuca of Chicago Heights, who said he struggled to reconcile his Italian-Catholic upbringing and the desire to protect religious rights with his oath to represent the people of his district and correct what he believes is a “legal inequity.”
"I was shocked through this process how many close family friends would contact me that live in the district who are closely affiliated with the Catholic Church who have a gay child or gay relative and asked me to support it," DeLuca said. "It was surprising to me, I learned a lot."
In the end, the multipronged effort proved fruitful: Of the eight targeted undecided members of the black caucus, five voted “yes,” one voted “no” and two voted “present.” Gay marriage backers also picked up an additional Republican vote in Rep. Tom Cross of Oswego, a former House GOP leader now running for state treasurer. The bill cleared the House hurdle with a vote to spare.
Meanwhile, the successful efforts to pass gay marriage in Illinois in a relatively short time have advocates in other states seeking advice on how to launch a similar strategy.
H/T: Baltimore Sun
Holy Fucking ShitBalls: Illinois lawmaker Jakobsson: "Son would be proud I voted for gay marriage in his final hours"
Garret Jakobsson, the 46-year-old son of Democratic state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, died Tuesday evening. He had a progressive neurodegenerative disorder called Pick’s disease and had been in hospice care in the central Illinois town of Mattoon.
Jakobsson rushed back to Springfield Tuesday afternoon to vote for the same-sex marriage bill, which she had co-sponsored. It ultimately passed the House with one vote to spare.
Jakobsson released a statement Wednesday evening noting that “equal protection under the law” was important to her entire family.
The vote, she said, was “one that I felt I could not miss and I know my son was proud of my decision.”
Garret Jakobsson was one of Naomi and Eric Jakobsson’s eight children, six of whom were adopted. Garret was adopted from South Korea in 1968, her office said.
Following its playbook from other states, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) attempted to block marriage equality in Illinois through racial division. But while some advocates of equality singled out the 20-member
House Black Caucus for blame when the bill stalled in May, it was their votes made passage possible on Tuesday.
Fourteen Black Caucus members voted for the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, compared to just four who opposed (two effectively abstained by voting “present.”) The bill need 60 votes to pass and won 61 to 54 — making the Black Caucus votes a difference-maker. The members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus also were nearly unanimous in supporting the bill. Black Caucus Chair Ken Dunkin (D), a co-sponsor of the bill, endorsed marriage equality as being “about equality and equal treatment under the law.”
Minority legislators have been among the most stalwart allies for LGBT equality for decades: in 1996, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted 342 to 67 to enact the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (and Democrats backed it, 118 to 65), 17 African-American Representatives voted no, compared to just 14 who voted yes. All but one African-American member voted for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal in 2010 and just one voted against the Hate Crimes law in 2009. Today 39 of the 41 U.S. Representatives currently in the Congressional Black Caucus and at least 20 of the 24 Representatives in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus support marriage equality.
h/t: Think Progress LGBT
Tonight, I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly, a body in which I was proud to serve, for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state.
As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.
I also commend the members of the General Assembly for approaching this issue in a fair and open way, and for recognizing the importance of our commitment to religious freedom by engaging the religious community in this conversation. Throughout this debate, they’ve made it clear that this is about civil marriages and civil laws, and made sure that churches and other institutions of faith are still free to make their own decisions that conform to their own teachings.
As I said in my Inaugural Address last January, our journey as a nation is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. And tonight, I’m so proud that the men and women elected to serve the people of the great state of Illinois have chosen to take us one step further on that journey to perfect our union.
Huffington Post: Obama ‘So Proud’ Of Illinois Lawmakers After Marriage Equality Vote
AMEN, Barack Obama!
Source: The Huffington Post
BREAKING: The Illinois House has passed marriage equality 61-54-2-1. Off to the Senate now. #IL4M #MarriageEquality #ILCantWait #Illinois
— Justin Gibson (@JGibsonDem)